Sinn Féin and historical comparisons


Sir, – If Senator Michael McDowell is to continue making historical comparisons in respect of Sinn Féin (“Time to wake up and smell the coffee over Sinn Féin”, Opinion & Analysis, December 2nd), he needs to make up his mind whether they are more like American white supremacists (“Charlottesville and the Michigan militias”), Soviet communists (“politburo“), or Nazis (“nationalist, socialist – an echo of Weimar”). – Yours, etc,


Dublin 2.

Sir, – Brian Stanley’s tweet will have served some purpose if it kick-starts an important and difficult debate that we are yet to have in any significant way in this republic.

Michael McDowell is correct when he says the vast majority of Sinn Féin members and followers support Deputy Stanley’s view on the Warrenpoint and Mullaghmore killings. They also agree with him that there is an equivalence between the Kilmichael and Warrenpoint ambushes: they were both aimed at killing the crown forces and driving the British out of Ireland. If you are an Irish republican, there is a compelling logic to this link.

The real question is the view of the people of the Republic of Ireland on this issue. You can be sure if and when Sinn Féin gets into power sometime in the near future, it will be doing all it can to make sure that this equivalence – the rightness of the Provisional IRA’s campaign of violence when compared to the Volunteers in the War of Independence – is driven home at every opportunity.

How does this sit alongside our desire, after the Belfast Agreement, for a future of peace and reconciliation between the Irish and British traditions on this island?

A core belief of the vast majority of Ulster unionists has always been strong support for the British security forces in Ireland: the British Army, the RIC and the RUC.

How will we in the Republic deal with this after we require those Ulster unionists to become citizens of a unified republic if they are defeated (almost certainly by the narrowest of margins) in the border poll Sinn Féin wants to happen in the near future? Will we continue to disrespect and denigrate their British traditions and support for the British security forces, past and present? Will we continue to call them pro-imperialist and sectarian? The cancellation of the proposed commemoration of the RIC after a public row last January was not a good portent.

There are no easy answers to this dilemma. But at least let us begin a respectful public debate about it. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – Could I suggest Sinn Féin focuses on real issues like Brexit and Covid-19, as those problems haven’t gone away you know! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – Brian Stanley TD should confine himself to his role as Sinn Féin spokesman on agricultural, rural and community development, and leave history to those with a bit of objectivity, nuance and humanity. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – The Taoiseach claims that Brian Stanley TD “has done huge damage to building trust and reconciliation on the Ireland of Ireland” (“Taoiseach ‘shocked and dismayed’ at Sinn Féin TD’s tweet on IRA attacks”, News, November 30th). I think not. Mr Stanley spoke those words as a freely elected member of the Dáil at a time of peace which he and his party worked hard and sacrificed to achieve.

Isn’t it apparent that the British are not interested in trust and reconciliation? The families of the 33 victims of the no-warning bombing of Dublin and Monaghan await the truth of the role of the British army and MI5.

Britain continues to undermine the Belfast Agreement with an amnesty for killer soldiers, the repeal of the Human Rights Act of 1998, and the continuing cover-up of a legacy of collusion with loyalists that leaves the killings of many Irish citizens in the North uninvestigated. – Yours, etc,


Chestnut Hill,

Pennsylvania, US.

Sir, – Given the upset Brian Stanley’s tweet caused amongst the mainstream parties in the 26 counties and the approbation heaped upon Sinn Féin, it would appear they have forgotten that both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael originated from gun-barrel diplomacy as well. – Yours, etc,



A chara, – If Sinn Féin is serious about convincing the general public that it is capable of forming a government that will be fair to all sections of the national community, it needs to put the easy slogans and one-sided narratives of the past behind them.

There are lots of things wrong in our society but we are also a country which has made enormous economic and social progress over the last 50 to 60 years, as anyone old enough to remember the poverty and social stagnation of the 1950s can attest. People generally are proud to be Irish and take pride in their local and national institutions. The dramatic increase in the Sinn Féin vote in the last election reflected its growing appeal to that large section of the public who are broadly sympathetic to nationalist sentiment and republican ideals, and who feel they are no longer adequately represented by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

There is a genuine repugnance at the use of violence and there can’t be any ambivalence about it. The leadership of Sinn Féin knows this as well as everyone else and this is why it is astonishing that anyone in a senior position in the party could send out such an ill-considered and offensive tweet as the one posted at the weekend by Brian Stanley TD. – Is mise,



Co Wicklow.